Harmony Golf Preserve is an award-winning golf destination that prized as a Top 10 Orlando Golf Course in 2011 from Golf Orlando Florida. Course architect and US Open Champion Johnny Miller designed a layout that would work in concert with the local wildlife. The result is a sprawling championship course that melds seamlessly with the natural wetlands and wooded thickets of the 260-acre wildlife preserve that surrounds it, earning the distinction of a Certified Audubon Cooperative Sanctuary.
While acting as a haven for feathered and furred animals, the course challenges golfers with tricky doglegs and undulating terrain, culminating in the course’s signature 9th hole, whose treacherous sand bunkers and water to the left of the green demand precision off the tee or a generous bribe to the mulligan maestro hiding in the thickets.
During course play, players can stop at a beverage cart or at the Grill on the Turn to refuel. After penciling in their final score, golfers can savor artisanal dishes and bask in the elegant, old-Florida atmosphere maintained by Graze, the clubhouse restaurant. Harmony Golf Preserve also helps players of all stripes cultivate their skills and clubbing techniques at The Performance Academy, while budding golfers can equip themselves with brand-name equipment and apparel from the pro shop.
Course at a Glance:
Calypso Kayaking captures the mystery and majesty of Florida's exotic wildlife and lush scenery with guided tours around the Indian River Lagoon. Tandem kayaks snake their way through 2-hour tours that slip away during morning, afternoon, and sunset hours, running beneath the sun's warming rays in view of dolphins, manatees, and native birds. Seasoned guides schedule late-night adventures during the summer months' bioluminescent tours, when the waters of Indian River Lagoon glisten with glowing streaks and the air fills with the soulful tones of an opossum’s harmonica practice.
At most courses, golfers are forbidden from feeding the alligators. At Golf N Gator, it's all a part of the fun—at least at designated times. The ancient creatures populate the swamp that lines Golf N Gator's two 18-hole miniature golf courses, where they can be found circling stealthily through the murky waters, sunning themselves on the rocks, or tricking players into trusting the wrong way a putt will break. While most of the reptiles remain at a safe distance, guests can hold some of the smaller specimen for a memorable photo op. Turtles share the swamp with their more predacious friends, and Golf N Gator also houses a 7-foot, 50-pound boa constrictor.
But the scaly denizens are far from Golf N Gator's only attraction. Amidst cascades, rock formations, and tropical vegetation, putters can plumb the shadowy depths of the 18-hole Swamp Cave Course, then take a break before conquering the Gator Mountain course, an ascent that pays homage to the world's first alligators, which famously had fur instead of scales and roamed the peaks of Tibet.
When paintballers feel ready for action but aren't sure where they'd like to do battle, they point their browsers to www.paintballpromos.com. There they'll find packages for nearby paintball fields, so they don't have to litter their own backyards with empty oil barrels and fill tiny water balloons with tempera paint. Packages usually include the rental of a marker and mask; paintballs and air fills are an extra charge at the field.
Dennis Buice, a member of the Professional Association of Diving Instructors, unlocks the ocean's depths for students during diving courses that follow the PADI curriculum. Scuba-diver classes start out by introducing students to diving in monitored, shallow water, and advanced sessions span a spectrum from PADI open-water certification to professional training in the rescue-diver course. PADI specialty courses explore focused subjects such as snapping underwater photographs or maximizing underwater time by using enriched air nitrox. Kids’ classes or Discover Scuba lets youngsters and newbies breathe underwater for the first time in the safety of a pool filled with less than 6 feet of water and no starving sharks.
Since 1953, the Coast Guard–certified captains and Merchant Marines of Miss Cape Canaveral Fleet have safely taken guests out to sea in search of trophy-size mackerel, amberjack, snapper, and sharks. As Florida's largest deep-sea-fishing vessel, the 85-foot Lydia yacht hosts up to 100 passengers—just like a large horse carriage pulled by a strongman—and offers comfortable accommodations such as a temperature-controlled lounge and cushioned seats. Fishing adventures provide guests with rods, reels, bait, and tackle big enough for the predators dwelling deep beneath the surface. Guests are invited to snap their own jaws around hot meals, unlimited sodas, coffee, and, for over-21 anglers, a duo of frosty canned beers noodled from the icy depths of the ship's cooler.
David Lane and his business partner started their sports-rental shop inside a cramped garage filled with surfboards, kayaks, and paddleboards—items they used for sports they practiced themselves. Lane’s favorite part of his job is “helping people participate in the activities I enjoy,” and his business has grown to a full-size store that stocks paddleboards, surfboards, and bicycles and leads guided excursions. Inside, displays house surfboards adorned with sunsets, beaches, and coconut trees hand-painted by a local artist, alongside similarly painted canvases to display at home galleries or hang on monochromatic surfers. The owners also deliver rentals free of charge to customers, dropping off surfboards at the beach, taking kayaks to watery trails, or delivering bicycles to cruise ships’ port of call for passenger day trips.
Additionally, the store offers excursions and lessons, including surfing lessons, guided kayak trips, and adventurous surf-fishing trips to hook ocean creatures from tarpon to 9-foot sharks, which the store has helped tag for a research project with NOAA Apex Predators Program.